Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire world and its various firearms, ammunition, and trends. This week I am at the helm and filling in for your usual host Luke C. Thankfully, recently I had the opportunity to get to know and research an oldie but a goodie. Today we have a review of the Stoeger Luger .22 L.R. CAL. Automatic Pistol. Let’s dive right into the review!
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As of 7/28/2021 the Part I of my Curious Relics article on the Stoeger Luger is live and it covers a more in-depth background along with variations of the handgun in its time. Some quick abridged facts would be that these were only produced from 1969 to 1985 and there were four very similar variations. These variations had to do with the two available barrel lengths and whether or not the safety was right-handed or left.
Finicky History: Stoeger Luger 22
Before we touch on working with the Stoeger Luger 22, I feel like we should go over its finicky history just a tad. The Stoeger Luger’s commercial downfall was mainly due to its reputation of being a picky 22 pistol. Picky despite the claim stated in the manual that it can reliably cycle both standard and high velocity 22 rounds. In most cases, the Stoeger Luger was picky regardless unless more expensive higher velocity 22 was used.
Many believe this is because of Stoeger’s ties to its previous Luger 22 handguns. Before the Stoeger Luger we have today, Stoeger commissioned, imported, and sold ones from Germany. These were more faithful examples of the P08 design. It is suspected that the chambers in the Stoeger Luger 22 pistols are tighter and better suited for European 22 rimfire cartridges. Many internet detectives state that a simple polishing of the chamber will increase reliability considerably.
Specifications: Stoeger Luger 22
Luckily, the Stoeger Luger that I happened upon was basically new in the box. The box itself is made to look distressed and messed up but this one only has blemishes or marks on the typical corners and edges. The Stoeger Luger would come in a box like the one below with a warranty card, parts reference sheet, and manual (mine is a reproduction). Besides the gun, it would also come with two magazines total. The operation of the gun is pretty much exactly like its real-life counterpart.
- Years Produced: From 1969 to 1985
- MSRP In 1972: Roughly $70
- Chambering: 22 Long rifle
- Barrel Length: 4.5″ or 5.5″
- Overall Length: 10 Inches (Our Example has a 4.5 Inch Barrel)
- Weight: With Empty Magazine, Roughly 1 lb 13.9 oz
- Trigger Pull: This Example was Exactly 2.5 lbs
- Operating System: Blowback
- Safety: Manual Selector
- Rear Sight: Fixed Square Notch
- Front Sight: Fixed Front Serrated Ramp
- Magazine: 10-Round Detachable Box Magazine
- Grips: Checkered Walnut (early) or Smooth Walnut
The Stoeger Luger operates the same as a normal Luger P08 but both have a different operating mechanism. The original Luger operates on a short recoil toggle-locked system. In that system, the barrel travels rearward slightly before stopping and releasing the toggle rearward until it slides up a ramp at the rear and ejects the spent casing. With the Stoeger Luger, it is much more simple. The Stoeger Luger is a blowback system like most rimfire guns and has a toggle-lock system attached to it pretty much for looks. Definitely makes it more fun to shoot though.
Fit, Finish, and Presentation: Stoeger Luger 22
First off the box is slightly off-putting in my pistol’s case. The reason being is Stoeger changed from checkered grips (pictured on the box) to smooth pretty early on in the Stoeger Luger 22 production life. They also had a few changes to the size and position of all the fonts across the gun. My Stoeger Luger 22 has “Luger” on the opposite side compared to the box. Besides my scenario, the box is very simple and well done. The box is also good-looking as well as it is sturdy compared to some boxes these days.
The fit of everything on this gun is nice and tight across the board. So much so that I had no idea that you could lock open the toggle manually until the third time working with it. Turns out you really have to quickly and harshly bring the toggle to the rear on an empty magazine. More so than you would normally I mean. Finish across the board is very well done. The smooth walnut grips leave a little class to be desired but are comfy in the hand. The bluing is authentic, pretty, and even overall. The controls all function with positivity. The safety is a decent click, the reset of the trigger is a good click, and the magazine drops free without snags. The sounds this gun makes are very satisfying.
Range Time: Stoeger Luger 22
Range time with this old girl was super fun, to say the least. My first magazine did have a couple failures to go into battery fully but the results on accuracy are displayed below. I put ten shots on paper at ten yards in a two-ish inch group. With the finicky history in mind, I really was not too bothered with the reliability of the gun. I do honestly believe that a good professional polishing of the chamber would help this gun perform considerably better.
The ten shots on paper were with some Federal High Velocity 40 grain lead bullets and as I mentioned, the gun did not cycle well with them. After this, I moved on to some very old Winchester Xpert 40 grain lead that worked even worse, most likely due to the degradation of the potency with age. Surprisingly, some old Remington platted hollow points that I had cycled two magazines perfectly. Besides the obvious difference in bullet, these were also 50 fps faster than the others so both probably helped.
Working with this gun is very easy and since the whole top of the gun basically exposes itself it makes it easy to clear jams if there are any. The toggle is super easy to manipulate and you feel awesome when you do it. It all honestly kind of makes up for the lack of reliability in the moment. I should say on average, this specific gun will have some sort of failure to feed fully into battery or extract two out of the ten shots in the magazine. All in all, for a finicky 22, I have definitely seen worse.
Note: I found a speedloader for the magazine that RE-Supply on eBay makes, but a regular HKS 22b speed loader that I have for my Ruger MK4 Tactical works much better cause it stays in place. Just make sure to only bring the follower down far enough for ten rounds of 22. Beyond that, the follower assist button will fall out of the disassembly hole.
Conclusion: Stoeger Luger 22
Despite the picky pistol that we have in our midst this gun is incredibly satisfying. The fit and finish is lovely and well done. The accuracy was surprising despite the toggle hopping and distorting things. I would definitely recommend picking one of these up if you get the chance and if you have the patience. They are not worth much so I would not pay more than $450 even if it is new in the box. Besides being an enjoyable and satisfying gun to work with, it would also be an excellent piece to turn some heads at the range and talk about!
Thanks for stopping by once again to read The Rimfire Report, we’ll see you in the next one!